China Surprises with Unannounced Launch of Yaogan-31 Spy Satellites

China surprised the global launch community this morning launching an unannounced Long March 4C mission. The rocket carried three Yaogan-31 reconnaissance satellites into orbit.

The Long March 4C was launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the Gobi Desert at 04:45 GMT (12:25 local time).

Prior to the launch, there had been none of the airspace closure notices that usually indicated an approaching launch. Additionally, the Gobi Desert launch site is remote with passersby few and far between. As a result, the general public only became privy to the launch 90 minutes later when providers China Aerospace Science and Technology Group (CASC) publicly announced its success.

The launch is China’s forth in just over 3 months, a staggering accomplishment. The last saw the launch of a Long March 3B rocket carrying two BeiDou navigation satellites on March 29. With a little over a quarter of the year behind us, the country is on track to reach their ambitious goal of 40 orbital launches in 2018.

Image Credit: CNS

Andrew Parsonson is a space enthusiast and the founder of Rocket Rundown. He has worked as a journalist and blogger for various industries for over 5 years and has a passion for both fictional and real-life space travel. Currently, Andrew is the primary writer for Rocket Rundown as we look to expand our reach and credibility.